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The Lead: Worker’s Comp Reform, UT Law Prof Sparks Controversy

Good morning. The National Weather Service says a freeze warning is still in effect through 10 a.m., before Austin warms to the mid-50s this afternoon. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on:

“When the Senate Committee on State Affairs of state lawmakers got together Monday at the Capitol, they were urged to require companies to provide workers’ compensation insurance. The Texas Department of Insurance says one out of five employees in the state works for a company that does not provide workers’ comp. That number has stayed relatively unchanged for two decades.”

“State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), has announced his intention to challenge current speaker Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio.) Following the announcement another Straus challenger – Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) – dropped out and put his support behind Simpson.”

“The organization that operates the state’s power grid says electric reserves aren’t where they want them to be for next year. That means you could continue to hear warnings during the heat of the summer asking you to reduce your electricity consumption in the hopes of preventing blackouts.”

“The Capital Area Food Bank is teaming with Cap Metro and Whole Foods for a food drive called Stuff the Bus. The goal is to literally fill a bus outside Whole Foods with about 20,000 pounds of donations. John Turner with the food bank says that little by little the warehouse is filling up with all sorts of canned goods. At the moment, it’s only about two-thirds full.”

And here’s more overnight stories that have people talking:

  • UT Law's Lino Graglia: 'Deleterious' Upbringing Responsible for Minority Achievement Gap (Daily Mail)
“A professor at the University of Texas has sparked outrage by claiming black and Hispanic students are failing academically because they have been raised in single parent homes usually by females. Law professor Lino Graglia was talking to the BBC when he said he could 'hardly imagine a less beneficial or more deleterious experience than to be raised by a single parent, usually female, uneducated and without a lot of money.'”

  • Video: Austin Commons Residents Still Waiting For Heat (KEYE)
“For the 10th day in a row, people living at one North Austin apartment complex are waking up without heat and gas on this cold Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, repair efforts will continue at the Austin Commons apartment complex after a major gas leak. According to the latest update, about half of the buildings are still without heat or gas.”

  • Two Men Fall From Scaffolding in West Travis County (YNN)
“Two construction workers are hospitalized after falling more than 20 feet from a scaffold Monday afternoon. The two were installing an awning on a building off of Bee Cave Road. Officials say the men were on one of two ladders on top of the scaffold.”

  • Water Coolers Removed From Hike & Bike Trail (KXAN)
“City officials with the health department told KXAN, ‘Because these water coolers were not properly permitted, properly secured and locked down – there was a risk for tampering.’  The health department said the companies could get an operating permit.”

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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